First Advisor

David A. Horowitz

Date of Publication

Summer 6-19-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Jews -- Sports -- Oregon -- Portland -- History -- 20th century, Jewish athletes -- Oregon -- Portland -- Social conditions -- 20th century, Jewish women -- Sports -- Oregon -- Portland -- Social conditions -- 20th century



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 85 pages)


The subject of Jews in sports is often times perceived as an oxymoronic research topic given the ethnic stereotypes that Jews are physically weak, unfit, and more focused on intellectual pursuits. However, Jews have had a long history and in-depth interaction with sports that is important to understand, not only to expand our perception of the Jewish people, but also to realize the important role sports play in social historiography. While the Jewish population of East Coast America and their involvement in athletics has been studied to some extent, the West Coast population, in particular, the Northwest, has been sorely neglected.

This thesis examines the lives of immigrant Jews on the West Coast, specifically Portland, OR and their interaction with sports compared to the experiences of immigrant Jews on the East Coast from 1900 to 1940. An overall examination and comparison of the Jewish immigrant experience in the West is presented along with an evaluation of the establishment of the Portland Jewish community and their coinciding athletic community. The experiences of the Jews in Western America is compared to the immigrants of the East Coast and how these differing involvements shaped the development of Jewish sporting facilities. The thesis then expands on how the Portland Jews grew their athletic facilities and overall involvement in athletics, related to the experience of East Coast Jews. The growth of the Jewish Zionist movement is examined along with how Jewish involvement fit more seamlessly into certain sports than others. The thesis also takes a closer look at Jewish women and their specific experiences in athletics compared to their East Coast counterparts and the experience of Jewish men in Portland. The role of philanthropic organizations as a means of greater involvement in athletics is assessed, along with how the experiences of Western European versus Eastern European immigrants played into their varying involvements with sports. Finally, the conclusion discusses the importance of scholarly sports inquiry as it plays to the relevance of a greater social history and for immigrants in particular, their assimilation and acculturation into American society.


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